Cohen Testimony Open Thread: Breakout ‘Stars’

I’m putting together a tweet-narrative on some of the GOP sideshow artistes who particularly beclowned themselves today, but first, strong supporting character noms for two of today’s partipants.

Steve Lynch (D-Southie) has not always endeared himself to the rest of us Masshole Dems, but he deserves credit for this:

Who is Jody Hice?

On the opposite end of the vertebrate spectrum, do *not* overlook Clay Higgins:

Moron, or miscreant? Why not both?

Election Fraud Open Thread: A Re-Run in North Carolina

Per the local Charlotte Observer:

The new campaign in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District kicked off Friday with a rally by Democrat Dan McCready, hints from several would-be GOP candidates and silence from Republican Mark Harris.

The flurry of action came a day after the North Carolina State Board of Elections ordered a new election following a hearing that detailed election fraud in Bladen County.

It made its decision after Harris stunned the hearing with his own call for a new election, after insisting for weeks that he won the vote last fall and should be certified…

The primary campaign would be relatively short. Though no schedule has been set, elections officials said one scenario would be for a May primary, a June runoff if needed and an October general election. The same officials have proposed a May 14 primary in the 3rd District, vacant since the death of Republican U.S. Rep. Walter Jones…

Former Mecklenburg County commissioner Matthew Ridenhour, a Charlotte Republican who lost his seat in November, said he’s received texts and emails since Thursday urging him to run. He expects to decide within a few days. And Republican legislators could run for Congress in a special election without fear of losing their seats, which are not up until 2020.

Despite McCready’s headstart, the 9th District still leans Republican. No Democrat has represented it for decades and President Donald Trump carried the district by 11 points. But some Republicans said the election fraud and Harris’ ties to Dowless have hurt the party’s label in the 9th.

“We have some work to do to repair our brand, and I’m not sure the current folks in leadership know exactly how to do that,” said Shaheen. “In my opinion party leadership in Raleigh made a fatal mistake by jumping out in front and being so supportive when they didn’t have the whole story.”…

Between the messy failure of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and the new State Court ruling on ‘racial gerrymandering’, it seems the GOP party leadership had a pretty good outline of the whole story — and since their guys were using those stolen votes to ‘win’ elections, they were just fine with that!

Read more

Open Thread: What Mueller Can Tell Us – And What He Can’t

(Tom Toles via

Excellent thinkpiece from Dahlia Lithwick at Slate“Prepare for Mueller to Ghost”:

The United States has a collective action problem. Not just the most obvious one, of high-ranking members of the Donald Trump administration persistently failing to act while in office and then publishing I-told-you-so memoirs or sniggering onstage at public fora about the president’s unfitness. No, the problem is also at the most micro level, and at sweeping constitutional levels as well. The prevailing ethos seems to be that so long as there is somebody else out there who is capable of Doing Something, the rest of us are free to desist. And for the most part, the person deemed to be Doing Something is Robert Mueller.

Given reports that the Mueller investigation might come to a close any day now, we may soon find ourselves in the middle of the acid test of this proposition. There’s a lingering perception that once Mueller delivers his report, the Trump era will end in a cloud of white smoke and glitter. It’s a nice fantasy—the one in which Mueller, armed with Truth and Fact, finishes off the Trump presidency with a ride through the Capitol on a white unicorn, scattering indictments and the seeds of impeachment, in a conclusive and irrefutable wrapup of the two-year probe.

It is also profoundly unlikely to actually happen that way. As one observer after another has reminded us, this is not necessarily Mueller’s call, and it’s not necessarily Mueller’s mandate. It’s also, perhaps most importantly, not necessarily Mueller’s style. At every turn, Mueller has shown us who he is, and that would be the antithesis of the Trump-style reality show protagonist. He’s been almost impossible to spot and is decidedly uninterested in the spotlight. Whenever he has faced the choice between grandstanding and dutiful drudgery, he’s opted for the latter. His public filings tend to be understated. His signature appears on only a few…

If any one man singlehandedly undermines the Great Man theory of American history, it might by definition be the guy who wants no attention, credit, fortune, or fame from this gig. He may also be the only powerful person in Washington, D.C., who has no plans to parlay his government service into a cable news perch, a cookbook, or to launch a line of handbags. It would not surprise me if Mueller did the Muellerist move of all time, which would be to drop a minimalist report on Bill Barr and then ghost…

We want Mueller to be both the guy who knows everything and the guy who does everything. It obviates anyone else from needing to know what we already know and do what needs doing. But going into the next few fateful days, my sense is that we might want to stop investing too much hope in great men, and superheroes, and saviors. Instead, we should remember that it is our job to insist that we, and our public officials, must be the Muellers we hope to see in the world.

For example, there’s this —

“Emergency” Open Thread: President #Flopsweat

And it was hardly a last-minute impulse decision! From the Washington Post, “How President Trump came to declare a national emergency to fund his border wall”:

President Trump knew that lawmakers were unlikely to ever give him the billions of dollars he wanted to build a wall on the southern border, so in early 2018, he gave aides a directive: Find a way to do it without Congress.

It was hardly an easy assignment. The White House had some flexibility to spend money the way it wanted, but could not move the necessary billions at will. Trump could declare a national emergency, but White House attorneys repeatedly warned him the risk of failure in court was high.

On Friday, Trump did it anyway. Stepping to a microphone in the Rose Garden, the president told reporters he was invoking his powers to declare a national emergency, then acknowledged what his lawyers had been warning him: He will get sued and, at least initially, will probably lose.

The remarkable moment, people familiar with the matter say, marked the culmination of months of heated internal deliberations between the White House Counsel’s Office, the Justice Department, the Office of Management and Budget, lawmakers and the president over how to fund the wall…

Keep track of the rogues’ gallery here:

The tension came to a head in a March meeting in the White House residence, when Trump learned that his aides had secured only $1.6 billion for border fencing in an omnibus spending bill.

Trump fumed to then-House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) that the funding was a fraction of what he would need and threatened not to sign the measure, according to two people with knowledge of the conversation.

“We gave you what you wanted!” Ryan shot back, the people said.
Read more

Late Night Diversions Open Thread: Run, Bill, Run!

I feel no shame in admitting I voted for Governor Bill Weld, and not just because the alternative was John Silber. As I remember it, Bill Weld was denied his hoped-for promotion to Ambassador mostly because Jesse Helms was a vicious little bigot. I suspect that Weld looks at current Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and sees the same fat, fatuous, self-satified Southern hypocrisy squatting on the corpse of the American Dream. Per The Root:

As America watches developments in Robert Mueller’s investigation, Trump’s national emergency has just begun. Weld, the former Libertarian VP candidate who supports legal abortion, has a no chance of securing the nomination. Even the #NeverTrump contingency of the GOP would be hard-pressed to throw their support behind the comparatively liberal Weld.

Still, Weld’s presence may prove damaging despite his uphill climb to the RNC. Trump, frequently provoked by slights real and imagined, would be likely to embarrass himself in response to a Weld quote via social media. In the especially unlikely event of a televised debate, Trump would be likely to find himself out of his depth. Weld, the federal prosecutor turned two-term governor who missed out on an ambassadorship to Mexico during the Clinton administration due to his support for needle exchanges and legal marijuana.

Weld is banking on fond memories of New Hampshire voters who remember him fondly from his time running the Bay State. The Libertarian who ran alongside Gary Johnson might find support in a state without motorcycle helmet laws.

The last two incumbents to face a serious primary challenge wound up losing. Here’s hoping history repeats itself.

There are problems with his record. His time as U.S. attorney coincided with some of the bloodiest moments in the unholy alliance between the late gangster Whitey Bulger and the Boston office of the FBI. And he does tend to, well, lose interest in things. But he has one thing that is a pre-requisite for anyone planning to run against El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago—Bill Weld truly doesn’t give a damn.
Read more